In addition, prior art feeders often utilize troughs from which the dependent animal population may obtain distributed feed. This type of feeder is referred to as a "free choice feeder." One disadvantage of this feeder design is that large quantities of feed often accumulate in the troughs of free choice feeders as feed is continually deposited in the trough by the action of the distribution mechanism (i.e., the motor/timer, wind action, etc.). Thereafter, feed accumulated in the troughs is exposed to the elements and begins to decompose or spoil. A further disadvantage of this design is the ease with which undesirable animal populations (typically, squirrels, hogs, birds, etc.) may access the troughs in free choice feeders and consume feed intended for the targeted animal population. A further disadvantage of this design is the periodic maintenance required to prevent contamination of the feed supply by the feed accumulated in the troughs and the associated cleaning and maintenance.
In addition, a further disadvantage of prior art feeders is the use of multiple leg supports and/or tree mounting. Animals may become snared or entangled in these leg supports as they attempt to consume the large quantity of feed that often surrounds the leg supports. As a result, the leg supports and/or feeder are often damaged as the animal tries to free itself In addition, the multiple leg supports provide an effective point of attack for animals attempting to overturn the feeder. Tree mounted feeders are similarly susceptible to wind damage of all types, whether to the feeder itself or to the supporting tree.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention is a feeder comprising a hopper fitted with interior baffle(s), at least one or more feeding ports spaced about the lower perimeter thereof, and a domed or angled based in the hopper. This hopper may further be fitted with a feed container attached to the hopper which provides increased feed storage capacity and which may itself be fitted with a reduced diameter base (a funnel). Fitted with this base, the feed container may be larger than the hopper itself (and thereby able to store a larger quantity of feed) while still directing the feed into the hopper. Further, either the hopper or the feed container may be fitted with a movable or removable lid which protects the contents from contamination by precipitation or other foreign matter. In addition, the feeding ports may further be protected by the provision of rain guards intended to direct precipitation away from the feeding ports. Finally, the feeder may be supported on a single pillar, column or other similar support structure.
By operation of gravity, feed travels downward through the hopper striking a series of baffle(s) which slow the flow of and alleviate compaction of feed on the domed or angled base. This domed or angled base holds feed in a loose and stable state adjacent to feeding ports open to the exterior of the hopper where it is available for consumption.
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